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I just finished The Mentelles: Mary Todd Lincoln, Henry Clay, and the Immigrant Family Who Educated Antebellum Kentucky by Randolph Paul Runyon. It's an interesting look at the French couple whose school Mary Todd attended, and thrived in.

The author draws heavily upon unpublished family letters and has quite a bit to add to our knowledge of the Mentelles. They weren't, for instance, refugees from the French Revolution; in fact, Augustus Waldemar Mentelle, the son of a prominent geographer who adapted readily to the new regime, left France largely because he was unable to settle to a profession. He was followed a few years later by Charlotte LeClerc, Mary Todd's future teacher, who had yet to marry Waldemar but had already given birth to his child, who died in a foundling hospital. Once the lovers reunited in the United States and married, Waldemar supported their growing family in a number of ways, working variously as a dancing master, a language teacher, a horse veterinarian, a house painter, a farmer, a silhouette artist, and as a bank employee (the last through the efforts of Henry Clay); as the couple explained to Waldemar's father, one had to be flexible to earn a living in America. Finally established in Lexington, the couple had an ambiguous relationship with their chosen residence, never feeling entirely at home in Lexington or, in that matter, in America.

For those who are primarily interested in the Mentelles in reference to Mary Todd, Runyon freely admits that he has nothing to add to our knowledge of Mary's education at the Mentelle school--clearly due to a lack of not-already-known resources rather than a lack of effort. There is, however, an interesting chapter about Charlotte Mentelle's friendship with Mary Wickliffe and the lawsuit brought by Robert S. Todd against her widower.

All in all, a fascinating look at a couple who played a prominent role in antebellum Lexington.
Thanks for sharing, Susan.

Here is a link to an image of Charlotte Mentelle.
Thank you, Susan - I didn't expect a book on the Mentelles to exist - it sounds interesting.
(01-22-2019 09:35 PM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote: [ -> ]Thank you, Susan - I didn't expect a book on the Mentelles to exist - it sounds interesting.

It just came out last year. It doesn't seem to have been given much publicity in the places one would expect.
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